Over the past two years of Covid and the Delta variant, we have found a variant that is silent, quick, and efficient.
The new Omicron variant had reported its first case on November 26th, 2021, and now is said to be the reason why the US reports over a million new COVID cases daily as the surge continues. This has made several schools in Pittsburgh continue the idea of throwing masks out the window, even with 12 and up are allowed to have boosters now.
If you do not know what the Omicron variant is, it is the third official version of COVID currently, and it is most known for its transmissibility. That means that it is very easy to spread and is quickly spreading in areas lacking adequate precautions. It has been also found through research that though the vaccine protects you from the worst, it cannot prevent this variant fully or at all depending on your vaccine status. However medical specialists and the CDC have discovered that if you have the vaccine, boosters, and wear a mask, the effects of this variant have become shorter and/or have less of a sick feeling.
Though the delta variant has become more deadly, Omicron can still be as dangerous as the second variant if the person in question has not had the vaccine, is not properly masking, or is consistently in a large group of people. Due to hospital bed shortages and an all-around job shortage for substitute teachers, it is incredibly hard for schools to remove a mask mandate that could be the only thing stopping them from shutting down the school from an increase in cases.
Our school is having a school board meeting coming up, and the topic of whether keeping school masks mandatory is among the main concerns and topics. When asked about her opinion on the other schools removing the mandate, if the mandate should stay or go at our school, and if it should stay how can we improve the mandate, Claire Boughton a 9th grader here at Avonworth had responded, “I do not agree with the other schools taking away the mask mandate, I think our school could improve with the new variant by keeping the mask mandate.”
Another student with a similar opinion, Feyi Odebode, a tenth grader, had shared their concern in this quote. “We are still in a pandemic, people are still actively dying, and not everybody at our school is fully vaccinated or had any type of booster, it’s not wise”.
When asked about what should our school change to prepare for Omicron she had said, “If we are going down the same path we did last year – Pitt College shut down at the beginning of everything, and that’s when we shut down and that’s already a bad sign. So if we get to the point where we were last year despite having vaccines and boosters shots, I think we should at least try and implement distance or doing a hybrid model”.
Remember to wear your mask to protect yourself and others while in school, and remember to get boosted if you can!